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Summary

No understanding of human life, individual or collective, could be complete without factoring in the role and contribution of these history-shaping teachers. Now, this 36-lecture series takes you deep into the life stories and legacies of these four iconic figures, revealing the core teachings, and thoughts of each, and shedding light on the historical processes that underlie their phenomenal, enduring impact.

Speaking from multilevel personal experience with these teachings, Professor Muesse leads you in an inquiry with a dynamic double thrust.

First, you'll get the chance to reflect in depth on the most essential values of spirituality and the art of living, seen from four archetypal perspectives. Second, you'll delve into the historical contexts and individual lives of the four sages, and how the religious and philosophical traditions we associate with them came into being. The lectures serve as a unique window on the origins of these traditions, through their focus on the teachings, actions, and historical roles of the sages who inspired them. In uncovering the original wisdom and practices of each sage, you'll grapple with key questions. How did each man understand the nature of the universe? How did each envision the human self? What did they each see as the path to true self-realization? In words reflecting profound and compassionate insight, these lectures bring the teachings vividly alive as they speak to their essential purpose and as they shed light on the choices we all face, moment by moment, in living deliberately and savoring life to the fullest.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses

What members say

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Fascinating

If you could sum up Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad in three words, what would they be?

I am really glad I bought this. I can not put it down so to speak. I am almost at the end but just thought I would highly recommend this book to anyone whose interests fall in these areas.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A fantastic theological insight.

I found this as a very interesting material that balanced theological, historical and religious studies complemented with some critical analysis.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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simply wonderful

state of excellence like his other works. Academic world should be proud of having people like him around.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Compelling

Could not put this book down, the lectures are amazing and informative as well as balanced.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Simplistic Overview

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Better for Islam:

In the Shadow of the Sword The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World
By: Tom Holland
In God's Path
The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire
By: Robert G. Hoyland

Better for Christianity:
Anything by Richard Carrier or Bart D. Ehrman

What does Professor Mark W. Muesse Ph.D. Harvard University bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I can see why he is a popular lecturer at universities, certainly better than some I had (!).

Any additional comments?

Simplistic overview, heavily reliant on religious sources (and now outdated view that there is a Q source for the Gospels). Ignores any possible negative in the teachings of any of these religious leaders (and there are more than a few to say the least).

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Easy to follow<br />

Pretty interesting. I have rounded out some long held thought due to this course. its seem this sages were wise but the more there years move on the more so called followers pervert great intentions.

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Excellent and enlightening

I liked these lecture but felt that they could have done a better job of mentioning their sources for the information about each of the religious figures.

A lot of the information just seemed to be something overheard.

Great delivery and insightful look at the similarities and difference between all the 4 religious characters.

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Four great sages... and a good teacher

I have learned a tremendous amount about the four Great Teachers, which will aid me in my studies but also in my life. Professor Muesse has been a firm and gentle guide, possessing humour and mindfulness . Excellent series.

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  • Curdy
  • 21-11-13

Brilliant introduction to those 4 great teachers

Any additional comments?

This book's content is really interesting and the author's narration is great. It's a perfect introduction to comparative religion. I enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it to my friends. It might be better to choose another title if you are already advanced in the study of those historical figures though.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • cliff
  • 14-08-13

Audible at its best

Where does Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top five. The course was perfect for me. I subscribe to Audible mainly for the non-fiction. The new Great Courses section is now my favorite.I fell short of an AA degree after the Army because I had to return to work. With the Great Courses option, I can now get up to speed on what I am most interested in, and be in a much better place when I return to school. This course - Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad was an excellent way to begin Great Courses. It was Taught and Narrated so well. There were very few - if any - areas that I wanted to speed threw. In-fact I hit my 30 sec. back button hundreds of times. The subject matter was perfect. It was taught in such a way that I can return to this course over and over, without the dread. We are lucky and blessed to now live in a time that a common laborer can continue to labor at his or her job, yet be able to study these Great Courses at the same time,satisfying our minds while at the same time satisfying our work ethic.I will now keep my eye on any and all of Professor Mark W. Muesse's courses.

65 of 69 people found this review helpful

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  • Normandy
  • 01-09-16

A good overview of 4 sages

Where does Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book covers a massive subject matter which is presented from a secular perspective. This audiobook does a capable job at presenting the main themes and historical background for each of Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad from the author's academic perspective - I am certain that theologians from any of the 4 religions will find many areas / points to disagree with! The book is controversial in places (when compared to mainstream theological understandings, e.g. the deity of Christ and Muhammad's use of war). It does offer an excellent opportunity to expand one's understanding of the 4 "sages" (the author's term) and to understand commonalities and differences between them. I truly enjoyed the audiobook, listened to its entirety, and learned a lot of things I didn't know. I took it for what it is - an academic, historical and sectarian view of the 4 "sages"; so, do not purchase this book if you are looking for a theology course.

Who was your favorite character and why?

All 4 "sages" were pretty interesting to learn about.

What does Professor Mark W. Muesse bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The spoken word reveals emotion and interest in a way a book can't portray.

Any additional comments?

The audiobook was well narrated.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Christopher J W Wainman
  • 15-03-15

Intelligent entertaining and unbiased

Intelligent entertaining and unbiased. Highly recommend it. Probably the best audio book I've listened to date.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Ray
  • 27-09-14

Great overview

What made the experience of listening to Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad the most enjoyable?

Prof Muesse placed the ideas of the 4 in good context. He relayed a lot of historical information.

What other book might you compare Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad to and why?

A history book. Can not think of a good example right now.

Which character – as performed by Professor Mark W. Muesse – was your favorite?

I thought he description of the life and works of Confucius was the most in depth and interesting.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

To much info for that

Any additional comments?

One of my favorite "Great Courses" books.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Jay Parker
  • 16-03-18

Wasn't what I had in mind.

I wanted to learn the teachings of these famous prophets; however, the course was more about their personal lives and how those lives shaped the teachings--each teacher's perspective--than the teachings themselves.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Fxx Zxx
  • 23-08-16

Good objective perspective

Though their followers/religions were a great deal of the discussion, this was a thorough look at the 4 men as individuals. Excellent lessons to take away and overall walking away knowing a lot more about the world and the people in it than I did before.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven
  • 08-03-14

Informative and well organized

This is my second series of lectures by Professor Mark W. Muesse. Both have been a pleasure to hear. I would classify this series as freshman- or introductory-level. It probably would not benefit any but the most casual religious scholar.

I feel that I came away with a good basic understanding of the historical facts, as they can be determined, and the teachings of these four individuals. Great care was taken to provide historical and cultural context for each. The work avoids any judgement about the validity of any religious doctrine.

When we experience deeds performed in the name of a doctrine, the obvious question is whether or not the actions reflect a rational interpretation of the originator's intention or are simply extremist excuses for the actions. An impartial scholar would be the ideal individual to examine this question; however, Professor Muesse makes no attempts in this area. Perhaps this issue was just not the focus of the series, but since the atrocities committed in the name of various religions are a part of their history, he loses one star for political correctness.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-11-16

Worth sticking with

This series seemed to get off to a slow start. I struggled with the lecturer's formality in words and in tone. But once he started talking about the Buddha, I started to appreciate his approach. By the end of the series, I was very happy to have listened.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Fernando Amador
  • 27-12-17

4 Lives to learn from

A magnificent lesson that must be placed into practice step-by-step with joy and seriousness.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful